+44 (0) 1479 831 331 info@scotmountainholidays.com

 0 items - £0.00

All things hiking Gear advice

Top tips: what to pack for a day hike in Scotland

We are frequently asked what to pack for a day hike in the Highlands, usually by our guests preparing for their guided walking tour with us. People often ponder on whether they should pack shorts, a sun hat, sunscreen. What gloves to bring etc – the list goes on.

Bear in mind, that if you are planning to head out on your own or at least without a guide, then you will also need to pack the following gear and be familiar with how to use it.

map & compass: you will need a good quality, local, walking map such as Harveys or Ordnance Survey (we stock the 1:50,000 OS map for our area). Do not rely on your mobile phone mapping.

You should also always pack some food (even small snacks) and some water. It is possible to refill your water bottle along the route, but take care if you are following a low level popular path. If there is a lot of livestock in the area, it would be best not to refill your bottle unless you have a water purifier with you.

Long or short pants (trousers)

Always tempting if you happen to strike the good weather to whip out the shorts to go for a hike. It is however worth bearing in mind that Scotland is not without its pests. There are ticks in Scotland which hang on the undergrowth, particularly at low levels waiting for someone or something to come past. Ticks are often carried by deer who rub them off on the vegetation. The ticks wait there for the next host to continue their life cycle. They can wait for years.

If you do pick up a tick it is not the end of the world. There is Lymes Disease in the UK which can be treated with antibiotics – but early removal of the tick is key to the prevention of the disease. We have tick removers here at Fraoch Lodge. Make sure you check yourself over at the end of the day. However, you can minimise the risk of picking up a tick by wearing long trousers and gaiters over the top of your boots. Generally speaking dog walkers and golfers are often at more risk than hikers of returning with ticks.



Long or short sleeves

Unless you’re going to be battling through particularly overgrown parts of the countryside, the length of your sleeves is not too vital and the rate at which you get cold will determine whether you think long or short sleeves suitable for the day.


Boots or approach shoes

There are not many well graded, smooth paths in the Scottish hills. Most tracks are relatively rough with loose stones and rocks. It is usually sensible to use over the ankle walking boots to protect your ankles from turning and also to keep your feet as dry as possible. Leather boots, though heavier, should provide the best protection and will be generally more waterproof than gortex lined fabric boots.

Cairngorms - LGL options


Gortex or Nikwax Analogue/Paramo waterproofs

Waterproof shell jackets are by far the most popular. Most shops stock a wide range of jackets designed with gortex fabric. Andy himself prefers to wear Paramo clothing or Cioch direct waterproofs. Both these companies use the same material. Cioch Direct specialise in made to measure clothing. The advantage that the Nikwax analogue material has over gortex is that it is designed to be reproofed after washing so is likely to last you longer. The jackets can also be returned for repairs at little or no cost. The disadvantage is that the material is heavier and can prove to be too warm in the height of the summer – though at an average year round temperature of 0oC, the Paramo jackets are usually suitable for the Cairngorm plateau.

Hat and gloves

Always useful to include a warm hat and gloves at the bottom of your pack as it can be cool on the hill tops even in August.

Base/Mid layers

The most sensible attitude to your clothing for hiking is to make sure you have several light layers which will provide maximum flexibility rather than one or 2 choices. Make sure that your layers are not cotton options as you could cool off very rapidly, should your cotton layer become damp whereas synthetic or wool layers will either dry more rapidly or stop you from cooling down too much.


The most useful size of packpack to bring with you is a 35 litre pack. This will be large enough to take all excess clothing, camera, packed lunch etc. Smaller than this may mean that you have to limit what you take on the hill, particularly in winter.

what to pack for a day hike

Wandering into the Cairngorms

Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any queries about the clothing/gear you are intending to bring with you for your Scottish vacation.

Want to get more out of your hike?

If you’d like to book a guide for your day hike, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. Andy is extremely knowledgeable about the Highlands of Scotland from history to nature and everything in between. A hike with him is an introduction to everything you wanted to know.

Email: info at scotmountainholidays.com

Tel: +44 1479 831 331

Worldclass artistry

Scotland famous for textiles – Scotland’s textiles are famous all over the world, not least of all for the kilt (a Highland tradition dating back to the 16th century!) and contemporaries who continue to produce some of the world’s finest fabrics.

Here textiles are as varied as they are practical. In the Cairngorms we certainly find wildlife stalkers are prone to camouflaging tweed, while walkers often go for the synthetics. Pro tip: don’t miss out on the versatility of wool; it keeps you warm when wet, wicks away sweat and can take weeks before needing a wash.

27784678866_79b18f1ee8_o (1)

Carding wool at Knockando, great activity for kids!

The must sees of the textile industry include the Scottish Borders, Harris Tweed on the Isle of Harris, Fair Isle knitting between the Shetlands and Orkneys and Johnstons of Elgin based in London who have a free tour of their wool mill every business hour, on the hour.

Scotland textile artists have been making quite a splash in the fashion industry, too. Notables include Angharad McLarenLochaven of Scotland in Ayrshire village (known for creating the outfits for Harry Potter’s wizarding school!), Christopher Kane, Jonathan Saunders, Graeme Armour, and more. Another great article on Scotland’s influence in the fashion world is 10 Scottish manufacturers for fashion designers.

In addition, check out a few of our favourite textile and yarn manufactuers in Scotland, namely Keela and Bonar Yarns.

On our doorstep – Scotland famous for textiles

In the Cairngorms we have our very own Knockando Woolmill Trust. This charitable organization has a fully functioning water wheel where you can witness its fascinating process in action, set against a lovely Highland backdrop. You can also browse their garments in shop—check out more of our experience with Knockando and the Scottish Kitlmaker’s Exhibition.


Knockando’s heritage water wheel



The British Wool Fest in Cumbria and the Inverness Loch Ness Knitting Festival in June and September, respectively, are both wonderfully immersive introductions to textiles, and Rebecca has taken a 3 day weaving course she would highly recommend for beginners and novices.


3 day weaving course


Preparing the shuttle to pass through the shed

To learn more about these experiences ask us about our self guided tours, because any quintessential Scottish holiday can’t miss out on its Tartan and Tweed!

Check out more of our adventures at Knockando:


Victorian machinery at work, spinning yarn


Spinning the yarn onto cones

Scotland famous for textiles

Carding fleece

Scotland famous for textiles

Spinning machinery

Calvin College (Michigan) come to the Highlands – June 2015

We were contacted to organise a Scottish extension to a long study tour for 15 people from Calvin College in early 2015. The outline brief for the trip was that it was a first time visit to Scotland for the students who would be travelling up from Edinburgh after spending a few days in London and exploring Edinburgh. They wanted to experience the beautiful Scottish scenery and visit Loch Ness and they only had a couple of days free in their itinerary.

Their trip worked out as below:

Day 1; depart Edinburgh on the train for Aviemore. This is a beautiful train ride which passes through the Cairngorms National Park. The journey ended at Aviemore station where it was the plan to pick up all the baggage and walk the group through to the Old Bridge Inn. There was a slight hiccup to the original plan in that picking up the extra van to transport the whole group took a wee bit longer than planned so we picked up the baggage as the group were finishing their pub lunch.


Photo caption: the Lairig Ghru seen from the Boat of Garten end of the Speyside Way

In exchange for the baggage, maps and route information was handed over so the group could follow a section of th eSpeyside Way to hike through to Boat of Garten across the heather moors. The girls then walked the 5 miles from Aviemore to Boat of Garten along the Speyside Way. The route is waymarked and relatively easy to follow without a professional guide. A couple of boards along the way with information about which hills you’re seeing at the relevant viewpoints would be very beneficial. You do get excellent views of the Lairig Ghru along the way as well as Cairngorm and Braeriach. Also if you’re lucky enough to be crossing the moor when the steam train is making one of it’s scheduled runs to or from Aviemore, it adds something special and atmospheric to the walk.

By 5pm, everyone had finished hiking and was settling in to their rooms at the lodge after devouring the tea and cake set out to welcome them.

Later in the evening we all ate a dinner of Harissa Chicken or butternut squash dumplings with rice and vegetables, followed by Self-saucing jaffa cake pudding (recipe to follow in our recipe requests section).

Day 2: Loch Ness

After a light breakfast, the girls made up sandwiches and a picnic lunch to take on the tour to Loch Ness. Today they were tourists personified planning to do the main tourist highlights around Loch Ness. First stop – Urquhart Castle. Lunch stop at Divach Falls. Nessie Exhibition, circuit of Loch Ness through Fort Augustus past some Heilan Coo (photo opportunity not to be missed) and back through Inverness to Boat of Garten.


Photo caption: Dressing up at Urquhart Castle


Day 3: Guided hikes: Forest Loch and Abernethy Woods or Rothiemurchus and Loch an Eilean.


The group was a large one at 15 so we offered 2 levels of hike: one for the more energetic and one for those feeling the strain of being on the road for a while.

In Andy’s group, we took the girls to Forest Lodge, where Andy was able to explain how the partnership between Scot Mountain Holidays and the RSPB works to regenerate the tree level up to 600m in this area. The RSPB have established a sapling nursery at Forest Lodge to encourage the regeneration of seeds of local provenance which they can then reintroduce across their estate to try to take the natural tree line to the level it would be at were there not so many deer in the area.


Photo caption: the active group enjoying the Pass of Ryvoan



Photo caption: Forest Lodge to Ryvoan Bothy with Calvin College

Monday morning: after breakfast the group departs to go back to Edinburgh and their ownward flight to Dublin.

Without the help of Scot Mountain Holidays the girls may well have missed out on their hiking opportunity and hence may not have visited the Cairngorms National Park at all. We were able to provide the missing link so that they could hit eveything on their bucket list in the limited time they had available. We hope to see a group from the college again.

All transport provided by Scot Mountain Holidays.

Tour conceived and supplied by Scot Mountain Holidays

Tailor made to the requirements of Calvin College.


Vacations organised by Scot Mountain Holidays

Guided hiking vacations

Multi-activity adventures

Self-guided Mountain Biking breaks


Useful links for planning your trip to Scotland

Email us if you think we can help plan your vacation in Scotland – we can hit all the Highland hotspots and include some off the beaten track surprises you might not know about.

For inspiration check out our Pinterest board and our Flickr account.

All content © Copyright Scot Mountain Holidays 2024

Responsive web design by Summit Web Solutions

Want to hear more?

Join our newsletter for a lifetime of hiking adventures!

Subscribe now!


Follow us